The sudden price increases caused by skyrocketing inflation have abruptly undermined the purchasing power of many Flemish families, resulting in 40% saying they are unable to make end meets, according to the Gezinsbond association.
Gezinsbond took the Ladeuzeplein in Leuven on Friday to literally sound the alarm bell, allowing passers-by to hit a rod with a hammer, which caused a bell to ring. The group warned that the financial situation of some families is dire, based on a survey it conducted among 7,000 families.
"Due to rising prices, 40% of families are having a hard time financially paying the bill at the end of the month," said Jeroen Sleurs, general manager of the Gezinsbond.
"It is not only about the 10% of poorest families, but actually about the entire working middle class. Everyone with an income below the median income is feeling it."
Vandaag houdt de #Gezinsbond actie in #Leuven. We horen heel wat bezorgdheden van gezinnen en jongeren over hun #koopkracht, van de energiefactuur tot de prijs van koten. @jsleurs: “Daarom trekken wij aan de alarmbel en doen een oproep om de toekomst van gezinnen te garanderen.” pic.twitter.com/3ydIvGKVKt— Gezinsbond (@Gezinsbond) May 13, 2022
Tweet translation: "Today, the Gezinsbond holds an action in Leuven. We hear a lot of concerns from families and young people about their purchasing power, from the energy bill to the price of student housing. That's why we are sounding the alarm and making an appeal to guarantee the future of families."
Saving on essentials
The survey highlighted that more than 80% of families need to save in some way, from postponing the purchase of certain luxury goods to saving on basic expenses, such as clothing and food. "10% even save on school expenses," said Sleurs. "And one in three families report that they have to postpone certain maintenance expenses on their homes."
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Gezinsbond stressed that the working middle class, which often falls just short of the safety net of all kinds of social measures, is particularly affected by the current developments.
The group is worried the situation will not improve before September, a very expensive month for families with younger children. With its action of Friday, it called on the government to give families maximum support and to implement structural interventions that support them, especially their children.